Supplies of some Fourth of July staples could be limited this season, due to inclement weather from the Southeast to the Great Lakes to the Northwest.
Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla., expects a bountiful supply of New Jersey blueberries for the Fourth of July, said Brian Bocock, the company’s vice president for product management.
Jersey blueberry supplies should begin peaking about June 20, Bocock said.
“The timing is right on the money for promotions,” he said.
Early indications suggest that demand should be very strong in the run-up to the Fourth, Bocock said.
Blueberries’ role in red-white-and-blue themed displays is a big part of that.
“July 4 is a natural for blueberry promotions,” he said. “There aren’t many other produce items that are blue.”
While blueberry supplies should be ample from New Jersey, the same won’t likely be true of other U.S. growing regions, Bocock said.
“Michigan is running a solid 10 to 14 days later than usual,” he said. “There will be very little product prior to the Fourth.”
Growers in Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi will still be shipping a few berries, but supplies from those states will pale in comparison with New Jersey, Bocock said.
On the West Coast, California expects to wind down production by June 20, and the Northwest is running a week behind schedule because of cool growing weather this spring, he said.
On June 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $18.50-20.50 for flats of 12 1-pint cups of large and medium California blueberries, comparable to $18-20.90 last year at the same time.
The Georgia watermelon deal is setting up perfectly to take advantage of Fourth of July pull, said Randy Smith, vice president and salesman for Midwest Marketing Co. Inc., Vincennes, Ind.
“The peak for the Georgia crop should begin about the 15th to 18th of June and to up to the Fourth,” he said. “I think there will be excellent supplies.”
Midwest Marketing will have Georgia watermelons about June 10, Smith said.
Hot, dry growing conditions in Georgia should produce high-sugar watermelons for Fourth of July shipments, Smith said.
Fruit could be smaller than normal because of the weather, Smith said, but irrigation would help mitigate those differences.
Watermelons from Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Western Florida also would likely be shipping for the Fourth of July, Smith said.
On June 7, the USDA reported a price of $16 per cwt. for 24-inch bins of red-flesh seedless watermelons 36s from Florida, comparable to last year.
Randy Wilkinson, president of Belle Glade, Fla.-based Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc., said spring weather in Florida could delay sweet corn growth enough that some growers would miss out on holiday pull.
“We could be a little short possibly,” he said. “We’re down about 15%.”
Quality however should be very good, and Wilkinson expected strong demand.
“It looks like an excellent crop,” he said.
On June 7, the USDA reported prices of $10.95 for wire bound crates of four dozen yellow ears of Georgia corn, up from $7.45-7.95 last year at the same time.